Photos: Heroic Clitheroe earn a place in Trophy semis

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Two stunning strikes inside the first three minutes was enough to see Clitheroe into the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy semi-finals on Tuesday night.

The Blues went to the Sir Tom Finney Stadium with only 11 senior players, with the bench made up of youth players.

Bamber Bridge FC v Clitheroe FC.  Clitheroe players celebrate Alex Ralph's goal.

Bamber Bridge FC v Clitheroe FC. Clitheroe players celebrate Alex Ralph's goal.

But stunning strikes from Sefton Gonzales and Alex Ralph set Simon Garner’s side on their way, and although Brig pulled one back five minutes from time when Matt Lawlor headed home a free kick from former Preston, Nottingham Forest and Hull City midfielder Paul McKenna, the Blues hung on for our lives and can now look forward to Monday’s draw, as they joined Conference North high-fliers Chorley, and Holker Old Boys and Atherton Collieries of the North West Counties First Division, in the last four.

Within a minute, Gonzales stunned the hosts with a bolt from the blue, and two minutes later Ralph made it 2-0 with another unbelievable strike from 25 yards.

Darren Green volleyed well over for Brig on 17 minutes, and Clitheroe continued to frustrate the home side, giving them no room down the flanks and competing well in the pouring rain.

Just before the break, Green, McKenna and Matty Kay exchanged passes, playing Alistair Waddecar through, but he fired tamely at Andrew Dawber, as the Blues went in two goals to the good.

Brig started the second half in determined mood, with Dawber put under increased pressure, and just after the hour mark, he beat away a volley from Kay.

Shortly after the hosts introduced top scorer Andy Bell, as their search for a way back into the tie intensified.

But, after soaking up pressure from Brig, Clitheroe almost added the killer third goal, as Ralph had a shot cleared off the line.

With five minutes remaining, Brig halved the deficit through Lawlor’s header, and moments later Dawber came to the rescue, blocking Matthew Mahoney’s drilled effort on the line.

In the third minute of added time, Glenn Steel’s header was comfortably held by Dawber, as Clitheroe held on to reach the semi-finals.

The Blues now await their opponents in Monday’s draw, having finally beaten Bamber Bridge at the third attempt this season, after two league defeats.